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Adult learners seem poised to return to college

Adult learners seem poised to return to college

Community College Daily

Matthew Dembicki

April 1, 2021

Despite enrollment declines, more than 20 million adults intend to enroll in community or technical colleges in the next two years, according to Strada Education Network.

An estimated 20.5 million working-age adults ages 25 to 64 say they intend to enroll in community or technical college in the next two years, according to national data from Strada’s Education Consumer Survey.

States are seeing a similar scenario. Data from CollegeAPP show that millions of adults in states across the country are still expressing a strong intent to enroll in the next two years.

Fall 2020 and spring 2021 enrollments at community colleges have dropped on average about 10%, with community colleges eagerly awaiting for those figures to rebound. Some advocates anticipate an improvement in the economy could prompt incumbent and dislocated workers to enroll at community colleges to upgrade their skills. But there is concern that for certain populations of students — low-income, students of color and women — it may take longer, as the pandemic has had a greater effect on them.

To encourage and help adult learners return to college, higher education institutions must assist them in overcoming some well-known barriers, such as housing and food insecurities, transportation and broadband access. Strada noted that guidance and coaching are also critical to help sidelined adult learners, who may experience self-doubt and lack access to clear information about college.

Community colleges benefit local economies as well as individual students, which is why it is critical to invest in two-year colleges, the report said.

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